No matter how many times we’ve stayed at the historic Highlands Inn, this wonderful destination overlooking the crashing waves of Pt. Lobos State Natural Reserve is still an experience unmatched for its beauty and natural drama.
And now with the completion of renovations, it only gets better.
Marking its centennial year, the Highlands Inn has moved its California Market restaurant from the lower floor to Pacific’s Edge, the resort’s formal dining room, where meals come with magnificent ocean views through large picture windows.
These ocean views at the new California Market at Pacific’s Edge have added a whole new perspective to the morning routine, as you enjoy that first cup of coffee!
And the breakfasts? Well, on this visit, it was fluffy Pancakes with bananas and warm Nutella and Cinnamon French Toast with berries and crushed pecans.
There have been some other important changes at the Highlands Inn worth mentioning. Just outside California Market at Pacific’s Edge is the updated 1,200-square-foot dining deck with louvered roof and glass-panel walls, again with brilliant ocean views. This area will soon be available for dinner seating, too. Happy hour is seven days a week from 4 to 6.
Then there’s the bar, located on the same floor as California Market at Pacific’s Edge. The bar has been “flipped,” in other words turned around with a view of the ocean.
While the resort’s 94 time-share units were already renovated, the 48 guest rooms have also been fully renovated, too. Of course, one seemingly small thing hasn’t changed at all – the presence of a set of Bushnell binoculars to look out at the ocean or perhaps a lone bird in the horizon.
Over the resort’s 100 years, some other important things here have never quite changed – like the first signs of morning light in stunning hues of red over the calm waters or the bar of light across the horizon with the approach of night.
Due to its sublime location, the inn has attracted travelers since it first opened its doors in 1917. In a day when roads were not as plentiful and travel was still “an event,” the inn’s founders, J. Franklin Devendorf and Frank Powers, promoted comfortable stays with wonderful meals.
Today, the Hyatt property features a variety of lodging options with ocean view and garden view rooms set among artfully-manicured, interlacing pathways.
Our room looked out over the swimming pool near a hot tub with views of the ocean. At night, we could enjoy the warmth and ambiance of our own in-room fireplace or go out to the hot tub.
For fun lounging and sipping drinks with small plates, the Sunset Lounge was a great place to watch an NBA championship game on the big-screen TV.
For dinner at the resort I selected the very tender yellowfin tuna tartar with avocado, chilled potato yuzu puree, popped amaranth and lime aioli and then the seabass with corn coconut chowder, charred summer squash, tomato leek confit and lemon basil oil.
My wife had the salmon with summer vegetables, smoked carrot puree, maitake mushroom and sunchoke crumble.
A real treat was the chef’s artichoke hearts bisque, lusciously creamy with a strong hint of lemon.
For desert the Tahitian Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee with berries, vanilla crème chantilly and almond florentina was very tasty.
For those desiring a change of menu, by the way, the restaurant also offers a very interesting plant-based option.
The inn prides itself on its farm-to-table menu, with all produce used in its restaurant grown within 50 miles of the peninsula.
During our visit, we made time to visit the charming village of Carmel, just a short drive down the road. Ocean Avenue, the village’s main street, is lined with shops and restaurants and leads all the way down to the beach, where parking was plentiful and we could enjoy a nice walk along the water’s edge.
Venturing a bit further away, we drove south on Highway 1 for an afternoon of exploring, but with one main goal in mind: photographing what is perhaps the most-photographed bridge in California, the Bixby Bridge, 714-feet long and 260 feet high and built in 1932.
When we discovered the bridge, we pulled off to finally get that prized shot.
There is another very nice outing you can do here – the famous 17-Mile Drive, which dates back to horse-drawn carriage days. A high point of the drive, which circles Pebble Beach and the Del Monte Forest, is the famous Lone Cypress, perched on a rocky outcropping at the water’s edge – another nice photo opportunity…and memory!
For more information on the Highlands Inn, visit www.highlandsinn.hyatt.com).
George Medovoy writes about travel, food and wine. Contact him at email@example.com.